Lions honor Challenger Baseball founder
Consistently energetic. Fantastic. Kind-hearted.
These are the words that come to the minds of friends and family when discussing Challenger Baseball founder, Carma Brown.
Brown was honored by the Grand Junction Lions Club at Tuesday as this year’s Hometown Hero.
Brown started the Grand Junction’s Challenger Baseball program 10 years ago, “out of the goodness of her heart,” some said, as a way to bring the game into the lives of children with mental or physical disabilities.
Her program not only touched the lives of the children in extraordinary ways, but also the lives of every adult or volunteer that has participated in the program, explained Lion Reford Theobold. Her selflessness and hard work toward establishing the program earned her the honor of hero, he said.
The growing program now includes four teams and a consistent commitment to volunteer from Colorado Mesa University’s baseball and softball players, and visiting teams who play at the Junior College World Series.
“We really appreciate this program because part of our job as educators is to develop community service,” said Chris Hanks, head baseball coach at CMU, in a video tribute to Brown, “It gives a change of perspective to our athletes.”
Partnering with JUCO was an important step in growing the program, said Jamie Hamilton, tournament director and CEO of Home Loan and Investment Company. Hamilton added that several JUCO participants had returned to their own home towns and started similar programs across the nation. “It’s good Carma, as we say,” he said with a smile.
Brown is an insurance manager at Home Loan. “It took me two years to ask Jamie about JUCO,” she said as she thanked the group of family and friends who had gathered in her honor.
She recalled the look on the children’s faces when she finally organized their first game and their names were announced on the loudspeaker. “They just lit up. I just love these children so much,” she said.
Every year, Brown looks for ways to improve the experience for the players. “Because these are not just kids with special needs, these are special kids,” she said.
Brown received a plaque, flowers, and a $1,000 donation from the service club to Challenger Baseball program. Her name will also be added to the permanent display of Hometown Heroes at Two Rivers Convention Center.